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Paula Deen Bails on Today Show; Claims Exhaustion

Paula Deen was scheduled to go on the Today show this morning to discuss the release of testimony in which she admitted to using racial slurs (among other things), but has cancelled abruptly claiming "exhaustion." And the Today show is not happy. In addition to addressing it live on air (see video below), Matt Lauer and Al Roker have personally called her out on Twitter. The official Today twitter account, which has close to 2 million followers, has also addressed the absence: "Paula Deen was scheduled to do an interview with us this morning, live in our studio, but we just found out, she's a no show."

Lauer says, both on Twitter and in the clip from the show, that he has not spoken to Deen but rather a publicist. Deen got to New York City last night in order to film the interview, but the best Today can get the publicist to admit to is that he or she "believes" Deen is in the hotel. "She has been on this show so many times," said Al Roker during broadcast. "She's a friend of the show, we consider her a friend, and we would hope that she'll reconsider because she really needs to address this."

Update 06/21: Paula Deen responded to the racist testimony in a video statement saying, "Please forgive me."

This is a dramatic reversal on the part of the Today show, which generally positions itself as Paula Deen apologists. When the chef admitted that she had been diagnosed with diabetes/accepted a pharma deal to sponsor the announcement, she went to Today. When she needed to go to someone to complain about how mean everyone was to her after her diabetes announcement, she went to Today.

Deen is rapidly losing friends; even the AP wrote "there's at least some risk to [her] image," and the LA Times asks "Will Food Network cut ties?" Can she really afford to lose Lauer and company?

Matt Lauer Addresses Paula Deen Absence on Today

Also we want to tell you that we had planned to have an exclusive live interview with Paula Deen this morning. She finds herself in a very difficult situation over her admission in sworn testimony that she has used racial slurs in the past; it's all part of a pending lawsuit. We spoke several times with her people yesterday and then I spoke with Paula yesterday afternoon. We arranged an interview this morning. We agreed there would be no restrictions for that interview, only that it would be open and candid. She told me at one point, Savannah, I don't know how to be anything but honest. I said fine.

She got on a plane, arrived in New York City last night and then we started to hear from her people that she is "exhausted"... She has not called us at all this morning. Her publicity person and I spoke a little while ago. Simply said, they believe she is in the hotel, but she has not confirmed anything other than that she is not here right now.

Video: Matt Lauer on Paula Deen

Update 06/21: Paula Deen responded to the racist testimony in a video statement saying, "Please forgive me."

· Paula Deen a No-Show For Today Interview [Today]
· Here's the Racist Paula Deen Deposition Transcript [-E-]
· All Paula Deen Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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